Thursday, May 31, 2012 #633 - Strikes Back!

This week's episode is sort-of a sequel to last week's show.

And, in the tradition of Star Wars, we've given this episode a very special title.

Last week, we got into a big discussion about the relationship between George Lucas and the Walt Disney Company.

We wondered why Disney hasn't done whatever it needs to get Mr. Lucas to agree to building a gigantic (Potter-defeating) land or park based on the Star Wars empire.

On this week's show, we asked the audience to step up to the microphone and tell us what attractions they would like to see in a Disnet-built Star Wars Park.

We received a lot of good answers, but any one that mentions the awesomeness that is Billy Dee Williams gets my vote.

We also have a rather vocal debate with the audience about the pros and cons on on-board audio on roller coasters.  Mike and EB have very entrenched feelings about the subject, but will the CoasterBoys be able to change their minds?

We'll also hear about Mike's trip to Pennsylvania and his visit to Knoebels! Did the new "Black Diamond"dark ride-coaster hybrid live up to the hype (and history?)

Plus, we have a Live Trip Report from Hershey Park and their new rollercoaster "Skyrush" and several surprise visits!

It's all this week on the Original Theme Park Podcast!


Direct Podcast Link

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page. 

Talk about this episode by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interactive poll - Do you think alcohol should be sold at the Disney parks?

Don't just answer the poll! Leave a comment here on the blog and tell us what you think! We'll read the responses on the next show.

Thursday, May 24, 2012 #632 - Give George Lucas Whatever He Wants!

For the next few weeks, Disney's Hollywood Studios is being over run with Jedi Knights, Sith Lords, Wookies, Droids, Bounty Hunters and a bunch of other characters from "a galaxy far, far away."

"Star Wars Weekends" is the hot ticket at Walt Disney World and it seems to be more popular than ever.

With the Boy Wizard making so much noise down the street at Universal Orlando, we want to know why Disney hasn't gone after the ultimate Potter Killer.

Why hasn't Disney done whatever they need to do to get George Lucas to sign off on a dedicated land or a dedicated park solely devoted to Star Wars?

We'll discuss it on this week's show and look for your opinions too!

EB also has a full-scale review of the two new rides that debuted at Holiday World - Mammoth and Sparkler.  Will the world's longest water slide live up to the hype?

We also have a Live Trip Report from Disneyland AND a winner in our SOUNDWAVE Contest!!!

It's all this week on the Original Theme Park Podcast!


Direct Podcast Link

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page. 

Talk about this episode by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interactive Poll - On-Board Audio on Rollercoasters

Friday, May 18, 2012

Verbolten - On Ride Video #631 - Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

On this week's show, Mike heads to Williamsburg, Virginia to take on Busch Gardens' newest roller coaster - Verbolten!

Verbolten isn't your typical roller coaster.

It's an immersive thematic attraction that sends passengers twisting and turning through the forbidden Black Forest.

There are a ton of great surprises and some of the most detailed theming Busch Gardens has ever done.

Throughout the show, Mike will describe the entire new attraction area as well as the ride itself.

He'll interview Larry Giles, Busch Gardens' Vice President for Design and Engineering.  He'll tell us what it was like to take on such a massive project and what guests can expect from Verbolten.

He'll also interview SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment's Corporate Director of Creative Development, Brian Morrow.  Brian was responsible for the attraction's storyline and rich theming.  He'll give us the attraction's back story and tell us about some of the unique aspects of the ride.

Plus, you'll get to ride along with Mike and his brother Greg as they "Brave the Black Forest" for the first time!

Back in Indiana, EB will have the results of our weekly poll question, play a Live Trip Report from Six Flags Great Adventure's opening day AND he'll have a new clue for our SOUNDWAVE Contest!

It's a jam-packed all-new episode of The Original Theme Park Podcast!


Direct Podcast Link

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page. 

Talk about this episode by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ride Review - Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

When you talk to any of the executives at Busch Gardens Williamsburg about Verbolten, you get a sense that they know the pressure is on.

Sure, it's important that they design a ride that is universally enjoyed and brings guests though the gates.  But in this case, the ride they have designed is replacing a legend.

Three years ago, Busch Gardens suddenly announced that they would be removing "The Big Bad Wolf," an Arrow Suspended Roller Coaster that had been in operation since 1984.

A whole generation of theme park fans (including me) grew up riding this iconic roller coaster.  So, it was a big shock when it was suddenly being removed.

I remember going on the Coaster Radio podcast saying that I was fine with the decision to remove the aging ride, as long as the creative minds at Busch Gardens had something just as good (or better) waiting in the wings.

So, now we fast forward to May 17, 2012.

Today,  I had a chance to ride the attraction that stands where "The Big Bad Wolf" once stood.

Before I tell you whether "Verbolten" can make me forget about the previous tenant, let me describe the ride experience for you.

First of all, the queue line and surrounding area has some of the best theming Busch Gardens has ever done.  I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say it is "Disney-esque."

As you walk up to the attraction, you immediately notice a German "Targa" automobile that has been severely damaged.  By the looks of the gigantic vine that has smashed through its windows, you can tell that the car has been in a terrible accident.

But what caused it?

Next, we work our way through the incredibly detailed queue line that runs directly through a German Tourist Center run by the brother and sister team of Gerta and Gunter.  As we make our way through the queue, we come to realize that the center's rental cars keep disappearing and the passengers are never seen again.

To cover up this dark secret, Gunter collects the personal effects of the missing motorists from the crumpled, vine-entangled cars.  He then sneaks back to the center and hides them amid the messy clutter.

One particularly interesting part of the queue are the video monitors that show live feeds of the Black Forest.  Obviously, Gunter is keen to figure out what is happening to his cars (and to guests like us!)

Finally, we make our way up to the station and it looks NOTHING like it did during the "Big Bad Wolf" days.  In fact, the design of the entire area makes one (start to) forget that the classic attraction was ever here in the first place.

When the trains pull in to the station, one can't help but be impressed.

There are five trains that hold 16 passengers each.  They're shiny, they're new, they have bright colors and working headlights! They really look like cars that you would see on German highways. Most importantly, they're pretty darn comfortable.  Although, the headrests might be a bit too high... and they might block the view for smaller riders.

Once we've been given our rental car by Gunter, we're off.

The ride begins with a few leisurely twists and turns as we make our way to the event building.  I was surprised that this section actually had a bit of speed, especially if you're sitting towards the back.

Finally, the cars take a sharp right turn and begin to head up a steep hill into the Black Forest.  It's then that we hit the first of two launches that this coaster will become known for.

As the cars pick up speed, we leave the bright sunlight behind and are thrust into the middle of a foreboding forest.  There are strobe lights, environmental effects and a pretty good soundtrack to make you feel like you're heading someplace you shouldn't be.

Because the ride is in pitch-darkness, you can't brace for what's coming next.  But the cars dive into a pretty-intense helix and a few surprise drops.
It's impossible to show you what happens inside The Black Forest. But this construction photo might give you some idea.

The best compliment that I can give to this point of the ride is that it reminded me of Space Mountain.  There was one drop in particular that got a good laugh out of me.

At one point the cars slow to a crawl and you get to enjoy some of the visual effects and scenery of the forest below you.  But soon, you're diving back down another hill and into some more twists and turns.

Finally, the cars slow down and pull into a straight piece of track.  This is where Verbolten's designers raised the bar for creativity.

At this point of the ride, you will experience one of three distinct possibilities.

1)  A Lightning Storm
A fierce storm will threaten to destroy the train and all its passengers.

2) An encounter with the Spirit of the Forest
A spirit will entice passengers with a pleasant-sounding voice, but then turn evil and attempt to make sure they never leave the forest alive.

3) Wolf Attack
In a tribute to the Big Bad Wolf, a red-eyed pack of creatures will stalk the train.

As cool as it is to have varying story-lines, I'm wondering if the average theme park fan is going to notice it.  I have a feeling that the majority of riders are going to be so freaked out by what they just experienced (and by what could possibly happen next) that they won't notice the subtle story differences.

But maybe I'm not giving them enough credit.  Time will tell if I'm wrong or right.

A construction shot of the "Event Building" where the "magic" takes place.
Regardless of what random storyline riders experience, the next part of the ride is going to be what people talk about all summer long.

At the height of the storm, wolf attack or ghost experience, the entire track that the roller coaster has been sitting on suddenly drops about 15-feet.

As theme park fans, most of us knew about this development a year ago.  However, I think this is going to take a lot of people by surprise.

Today I rode Verbolten for the first time with my brother Greg, who purposefully didn't read anything about the ride so he could be totally surprised.

When the track dropped in a total free-fall, Greg let out a blood-curdling scream unlike anything I have ever heard from him.  It surprised him.  It scared him.

It made me laugh hysterically.

Busch Gardens - 1  Greg - 0

I'm pretty sure Greg won't be the only one taken off guard by this effect, which is the first of it's kind in North America.

After the shock of the free-fall drop, there isn't much time to rest.  The train rockets forward (much more intensely this time) to its top speed of 53 mph.

We can see that the cars are heading towards a rickety old wooden bridge on the top of a ravine.  Below, is the majestic Rhine River.

Yes friends, we are in the exact same spot as the final river plunge on the old "Big Bad Wolf" coaster.

The trains show to a crawl so we can appreciate the view and perhaps contemplate what's coming next.  The designers added sound effects of creaking wood and snapping timber to make us a bit more uneasy.

Finally, the trains plunge over the side and we head down an 88-foot drop towards the Rhine River.

In a fitting tribute to The Big Bad Wolf, the final drop and twisted finale take the exact same route as our beloved former coaster.  Call me sentimental, but it was like seeing an old friend who you thought you had lost.

The front seat provided some excellent visuals.  The back seat gave me some surprising airtime.

I think Busch Gardens Williamsburg has a hit on their hands.

I think they'll see long lines for the ride all summer long and more people coming though the gate to check it out.

I don't think this is a "perfect ride"... no ride ever is.

I truly envisioned them doing more inside the "Black Forest" in terms of lighting, audio and special effects.  In fact, I had to ride several times to make sure I understood what was happening in all three storylines.

I opened this review talking about "The Big Bad Wolf" and wondering if "Verbolten" could live up to its legacy.

"The Big Bad Wolf" had 25-years to impress people and make lasting memories.  "Verbolten" has been open one day.

I think "Verbolten" has enough surprises and unique details of its own to eventually make people stop comparing it to "The Big Bad Wolf."

Because the bottom line on Verbolten is... it's fun.

It made me laugh.
It made me yell.
It made me throw my hands up in the air.
It made me high-five my brother.
It made me want to ride again.

Isn't that exactly what you want in a roller coaster?'s own Greg K. with Gerta and Gunter.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 #630 - 2012 Season Preview

The very first episode of our podcast was on April 25, 2005.

We spent that first show looking ahead at all of the new attractions that would be opening at theme parks across the country in 2005.

Reviewing the new attractions for the upcoming summer has become an annual tradition here at the show and this year is no different.

This week, we take a look ahead at 12 new rides and attractions that will be making their debut in 2012.

From roller coasters to flat rides to water slides... we'll talk about new attractions that will demand your attention.

Joining us on the show to lend his expertise is the Theme Parks Guide from Arthur Levine!

Arthur will give us in-depth detail about each new attraction... including some breaking news about what will happen inside the event building of Busch Gardens Williamsburg's new coaster - Verbolten!

Plus, we'll announce the winner of our HIMYM Caption Contest and give yet another clue in our Soundwave Contest! (You'll have to listen to the show to find out what that is!)


Direct Podcast Link

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page. 

Talk about this episode by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Interactive Poll - Your Favorite "Fried" Park Food

Thursday, May 03, 2012 #629 - To The Extreme!

People who like theme parks and thrill rides are often called "extreme."

I guess people who travel hundreds of miles to ride the latest and greatest roller coasters tend to take a few more risks and try experiences that the average person might never try.

However, there are some attractions out there that even test the courage of the bravest park fans.

Heck, they even test the courage of the bravest podcast hosts!

On this week's show, Mike and EB talk about what the listeners say are the most extreme rides on earth.  To make things easier, they break up the conversation into three sections - extreme roller coasters, extreme water slides and extreme flat rides.

Your stomach will turn just hearing about some of these crazy experiences.

We also have some updates on the various contests, the results of our interactive poll and details about a fun, new project we've devised for this summer!

It's all on this new episode of The Original Theme Park Podcast!


Direct Podcast Link

Or you can listen online by using the podcast player on the right hand side of this page. 

Talk about this episode by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Interactive Poll - Most Anticipated New Attraction of 2012?

On our upcoming show, we'll be talking about the hotly anticipated attractions that will be opening at parks across the country in 2012.

What new ride do you think will stand out above all the others when the Summer of 2012 is in the history books?

Will it be a roller coaster?  Will it be a water ride?  Will it be a record breaker?

Let us know your thoughts by taking part in the poll below!

You can also leave a comment and we might read it on the show.

All Original Content Copyright 2005-2016 - Lift Hill Media, LLC